2014 Scion FR-S
Published on Sun, Jan 5, 2014
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Mark Dorman
I have tasted heaven, and it has four wheels.
Have you ever owned a pair of jeans (or anything, for that matter) that was your absolute favorite? Not because they were the most expensive or the best-looking, but because of the way they made you feel? That is what the Scion FR-S is in my book. It is not the best-looking car in the world (although I do love the way it looks) or the fastest by any means. However, the car is so amazing to drive it won me over and made me never want to let it go.
The moment I got an email saying I was going to have an FRS test car, I was excited beyond belief. I have been waiting to really drive this car long before the concept was even released. On my way to Toyota Headquarters to pick up the car, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. They handed me the keys and I literally ran to the test car parking lot to find the FRS. There it was, all shiny white with a full tank of gas. What more could I ask for?
Exterior and Interior Impressions
The FRS is beautifully crafted. The lines look aggressive and smooth without looking gaudy. Almost every part of the design serves a function from the shape of the hood and roof, to the little fin on the tail lights. This car was purpose built for a true driver. The tail lights look a little cheap (reminiscent of the Altezza-style lights seen on every tuner Honda in LA), and the wheels are a little narrow. Other than that I have no complaints about the exterior.
Upon getting into the FR-S, I find the interior well-crafted. Everything feels very driver-oriented and easy to access. Some of the materials feel a little cheap and a little low on the quality scale, but you can’t expect a Lexus quality interior on a $25,000 car. The seats are incredibly comfortable and supportive. There are bolsters that hug you at all times and enough support to ensure great posture on long drives. Steering wheel feel is also phenomenal. Toyota-Scion-Subaru really hit a home run here.
The greatest thing about this car, above all else is the way it drives. On the road the FR-S is incredibly well-composed. The suspension soaks up bumps well for a sport suspension and never felt unsettled on broken and rough pavement. The power from the engine is a little less than you might expect from a car that looks this fast. However, despite the constant complaints I’ve heard and read about the power, the car was not actually that slow. There is ample power for merging onto the freeway and getting a good start at a stop light. This car was not designed for drag racing though, which becomes very obvious when pulling away from line while flooring it.
So what is so great about this car? You don’t really realize how good this car is until you find a nice twisty road. This car was made to take turns, and it delivers in spades. Barrel down into a tight bend, hit the brakes, turn in and feel the magic. The feeling from the brake pedal lets you know how hard the brakes are working. The feedback through the steering wheel is communicative on a Porsche level. Every second of the turn you can feel what the car is doing, where it is going, and how much more the car can handle. Turn after turn the car carries its speed with easy while still making you feel in control.
Does the car have the highest limits? No, but that is part of the FR-S’ charm. It is a car you can push to the limits and still feel like the car will not let you down. Controlling the car in a slide makes you feel like a better driver than you are, and you always feel in charge. I’ve never had as much fun driving a car through some twisties, even though I knew there are cars that could do it faster. In daily driving, every corner becomes an excuse to not use traction control. Sliding the rear end around at legal speeds is a feat not attainable in most sports cars and definitely never feels as safe. From the second I pulled out of the parking lot to when I was forced to turn in the keys, the car never stopped putting a smile on my face.
The best automatic under $50,000 I’ve ever driven
The only wet blanket on my excitement for getting an FRS for a week was knowing it was equipped with an automatic transmission. I have owned nothing but stick shift sports cars and am a manual diehard through-and-through. That being said, I got into the car with a bit of a biased opinion out of the gate. I was determined to write something bad about the car and anyone who even thought of getting such a machine with a slush box. Boy, was I wrong. Toyota engineers went to great lengths to make this car a blast to drive even with the automatic transmission.
In daily driving and normal mode the transmission is well behaved, shifts smoothly, and gets you along without much fuss. The power doesn’t feel lacking like in some automatic cars and the shift logic was so on point I almost forgot I wasn’t doing the shifting. In sport mode, this transmission shines—keeping the transmission in gear all the way up to redline, and even keeping the tranny in gear when you are off the gas (just like a manual transmission when you leave it in gear). The shifts are crisp and faster than any “manual shifting” automatic I’ve ever driven (short of the Porsche PDK). I actually used the paddle shifters that were attached to the steering wheel (I still prefer them on the steering column) to my surprise and never got frustrated (I have always been adamantly against non-dual clutch paddle shifters).
If you are someone who doesn’t know if the car will be as fun-to-drive without the manual transmission and need to buy an automatic, fear not. This car is brilliant in either form.
Conclusion An absolute joy to drive, in a package that looks amazing: It is no surprise that Scion hasn’t been able to keep these cars on their showroom floors. For the price (even for $10,000 more), you will be hard pressed to find a better driver’s car. As I said before; it may not be the fastest car, or the best looking, but it is my favorite nonetheless. For more information about Scion products, go to scion.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of car: 2014 Scion FR-S All new for 2013, the 2014 Scion FR-S gets knee pads on the transmission tunnel and door panels (around the speaker grilles). Also new is a standard 6.1-inch touchscreen audio system. Price: $24,700 (base manual) $25,800 (base automatic) EPA fuel economy rating (miles per gallon): 22 city/30 highway Engine: FA20 2.0L 4-cylinder boxer, DOHC 16 valve, dual variable valve timing, D4-S Direct and Sequential Port Injection Horsepower: 200 @ 7000 rpm Torque: 151 pound-feet @ 6400-6600 rpm Transmission: RA62 6-Speed manual with Torsen Limited Slip Differential 6-Speed automatic with Sport mode and sequential manual paddle shifters (as equipped) Drive configuration: Front engine, rear wheel drive Steering: Electronic Power Steering Suspension: Front MacPherson Strut with 18mm stabilizer bar Rear double wishbone with 14mm stabilizer bar Brakes: Front 11.6” ventilated disc Rear 11.4” ventilated disc Anti-lock brake system Wheels and tires: Wheel type: Scion aluminum alloy Wheel size: 17 x 7 inches Tire type: Michelin Primacy HP summer tires 215/45R17 87W Dimensions: Length: 166.7 inches Width: 69.9 inches Height: 50.6 inches Curb weight (lbs./kg): 2758/1251